By Jayne Clark
After a day of mountain activity—whether hiking or biking in summer, or breezing down snow-covered trails in winter—there’s no better way to end the day than with a great meal for two at an intimate restaurant.
Here, a sampling of some of Vail’s most alluring tables for two.
This iconic New American restaurant in Vail Village has been around since 1977, when it opened as a casual, 47-seat eatery. It has expanded since then—both in size and reputation. Winner of multiple Open Table Choice awards, its menu offerings include local Colorado lamb T-bone, American red snapper, pan-roasted duck breast and buffalo au poivre. Save room for dessert. The Sticky Toffee Pudding (brown sugar, rum ice cream and peanut brittle) is to die for.
For diners who truly care about the origins of their food, this restaurant goes to great lengths to verify as much as possible about the menu’s ingredients, from cultivation to harvest methods. Ninety percent of the ingredients used are certified organic. (They even grow their own quinoa sprouts.) Specialty cocktails include in-house barrel-aged whiskey, house-brewed ginger beer and hard grape soda.
Located in the Vail Mountain Resort, the dining room exudes warmth and elegance. Dinner fare ranges from a light “Vitality Salad” with crispy prosciutto, to a grilled pork Porterhouse with pumpkin-chive farrotto and crispy lemon Brussels sprouts. The grilled Rocky Mountain trout, stuffed with raisins, caramelized onion and pine nuts, gets raves.
The restaurant is a winner of the Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence, among other accolades.
Part of the dining experience at this elegant European-style chalet is getting there. Diners take a gondola up Vail Mountain to Eagle’s Nest, where a shuttle (in summer) or snowcat (in winter) completes the journey to the restaurant overlooking the spectacular Game Creek Bowl.
The pre-fixe menu features from three to five courses, with a choice among four appetizers, four soups and salads, six entrees and four desserts. (Entrees include poultry, beef, seafood and a vegetarian option.) There’s also a five-course chef’s menu, with an option for wine pairings.
Perfect for a romantic dinner, the eatery is nestled 10,300 feet up the mountain and is part of the private Game Creek Club. During ski season, it’s open to the public for dinner only. The rest of the year, it’s open for lunch and dinner.
Located in Lion Square Lodge at the Gondola, this distinctive restaurant features Latin-inspired dishes from Mexico, South America, Central America and Spain. Serving breakfast, lunch, apres ski and dinner, the menus keep things fresh with Latin twists on American breakfast favorites and popular “street cart” fare-themed lunch offerings served with rice and beans, fries or Cuban corn salad. Dinners highlight traditional Latin American entrees like Mahi Veracruz and Tres Chiles.
Libations include Central American, Spanish and Mexican beers along with freshly made margaritas and a mojito menu. You’ll also find delectable desserts like deep fried ice cream, and churros dusted with cinnamon sugar and served with chocolate sauce.
If you're planning a trip to Vail for two, consider staying in a romantic rental condo at Lion Square Lodge.
Washington, DC-based freelance travel writer Jayne Clark has been a travel reporter at USA TODAY and several other daily newspapers.